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Cheapheat by rv comfort, doing great!


Just Don

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Cheapheat by rv comfort, doing great!

Just wanted to say the electric heating system is working great this am.
49 outside real even heating thru out coach. Glad I put it in it's working great.
First chance I have really put it thru the paces, besides the testing.
Which was in the summer so that was a very short time.. ;)

Was a fairly easy install just read the manual and ask questions.
To me manual could have been written better. That is my opinion.
Other wise the product is top of the line built lot of safety features.

I'M just a user and will post more as the winter goes on if there is any interest.

Main thing wife's likes it.

I'M not part of this company just a customer.. But wish I was.. : :D

 

1) far as putting heat out thru vent on outside I could place my hand over it and hold it there.

When propane was running it would be up to 375- 425.

2) a installed it myself so cost was just $495. Plus a a breaker and a breaker box and wiring.

 

 

 

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Just Don,

 

i have been seriously researching the Cheap Heat system for installing in my 5er. My wife and I are looking to start full timing sometime next year hopefully and what I like about this is that it provides options. I have yet to read a bad review from anyone who has installed one. My ONLY question is electrical consumption costs vs. propane for similar conditions.

 

Just curious if you can provide more details about your install. I would install it myself. Can you give some more details about your experience?

 

 

Steve

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Just Don,

 

i have been seriously researching the Cheap Heat system for installing in my 5er. My wife and I are looking to start full timing sometime next year hopefully and what I like about this is that it provides options. I have yet to read a bad review from anyone who has installed one. My ONLY question is electrical consumption costs vs. propane for similar conditions.

 

Just curious if you can provide more details about your install. I would install it myself. Can you give some more details about your experience?

 

 

Steve

I can send you the manuals to look over. I don't see how to upload them here.

Private message me!

Steve did you install the inverter?

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I can send you the manuals to look over. I don't see how to upload them here.

Private message me!

Steve did you install the inverter?

 

I'll send you a PM. Haven't installed the inverter yet. It will probably be next spring before I am able to. Getting my options and mods all lined up in my mind right now...lol.

 

Steve

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The cheap heat was something that I seriously considered while we were full-time but never did go to the extent of putting one in. I think that it could be a pretty nice device to have, I weighed it pretty seriously but finally decided that I could buy a lot of propane for the $500 that it would cost to buy one.

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  • 2 months later...

I considered Cheap Heat, but we have a whole-house heat pump which works well down to 40*, lower than that the propane furnace runs, for two reasons, #1 heat pump cannot keep up, #2 water tanks should be heated to prevent freezing. That brought me to Kirk's reasoning so I didn't buy one.

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But cheap heat sure keeps the coach really warm.

It is always good hearing that an aftermarket product performs as advertised. Have you done any cost comparisons as yet? Where it really appealed to me was back when we were fulltime, a great deal of our time was spent in volunteer positions where electricity was supplied but propane was not. I used the small electric heaters for most of our heat so it would have been a nice thing to have and more convenient.

 

Thank you for sharing!

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I considered Cheap Heat, but we have a whole-house heat pump which works well down to 40*, lower than that the propane furnace runs, for two reasons, #1 heat pump cannot keep up, #2 water tanks should be heated to prevent freezing. That brought me to Kirk's reasoning so I didn't buy one.

Ray cheap heat does every thing your propane furnace heater does. Heats every thing it's attached to your furnace.

 

Any time Kirk

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I really like the idea of the Cheap Heater. For us, the decibel level of the furnace when it is running, is a big discomfort. It's always just " Right there!" when it's on. I have tried to use it for circulating the air off the floor and shoving some through the water tanks area but it was just too loud to leave on all the time.

 

I even put a panel of celotex in the intake hole in the cabinet (no worries, the air flow also goes in under the kick space of all of the cabinets). This did help a lot but not enough. One must get very creative sometimes to get the heat where you want it.

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I am really glad to be hearing positives from an actual user of the product. It's in my plan to install the CheapHeat system in the future and a recent camping trip in November confirmed it to me. Please keep the info whether good or bad flowing!!!!

 

 

Steve

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  • 11 months later...

Hi. I have a question for someone who purchased a CheapHeat system. I'm looking into having someone install a CheapHeat add on CH50 DHSA unit onto my 40,000 btu Suburban gas furnace in my 2011 Carri Lite fifth wheel. I'm not competent to install it and I'm concerned that the installer know what they are doing. In addition to the CheapHeat unit, I' have to supply a subpanel breaker box with (2) 30 amp fuses, plus the unit comes with a controller box. It's my understanding that because my AC panel isn't easily accessible, that I'd tie into the incoming AC power between the trailer's exterior plug and my AC panel in a way that meets state electrical code. The CheapHeat put a load of about 21 amps on each leg of a 240 volt system.

 

Do I need a licensed electrician (e.g., take my rig into an RV service center of some kind) or is this electrical scope of work involving my furnace something a well qualified mobile RV service provider can do?

 

I'm a home builder, but new to RVs. I am not handy myself in terms of mechanical, electrical or plumbing; mostly a finance guy. I don't know if I'm better off with a licensed electrician who may know little about RVs or a certified RV technician who doesn't have an electrical license.

 

Any perspective would be appreciated.

 

Thanks

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It's my understanding that because my AC panel isn't easily accessible, that I'd tie into the incoming AC power between the trailer's exterior plug and my AC panel in a way that meets state electrical code. The CheapHeat put a load of about 21 amps on each leg of a 240 volt system.

If you do that you will remove the safety provided by the main circuit breaker in your present distribution panel. That dual 50A breaker is there to limit the maximum current/power through your cord and is a safety device.

 

The term "sub panel" means a second panel that is fed from the first panel and that is the only safe way to do this. I'm not sure why they want a sub panel as I would think that one circuit dual breaker to supply the "Cheap Heat" would be enough, but if it does require two of them you could still do so inside of the present distribution panel if there is enough space for them. If the device is a 240V system, then I suspect that what they actually want is one dual circuit breaker connected to both phases from your power.

51Oq6YTX0rL._AC_UL160_SR160,160_.jpg or 31%2Bc2LHpd2L._AC_UL160_SR160,160_.jpg

 

 

Do I need a licensed electrician (e.g., take my rig into an RV service center of some kind) or is this electrical scope of work involving my furnace something a well qualified mobile RV service provider can do?

That would probably be a good idea since you do not feel competent to know if it is done properly.

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Good point Kirk about bypassing the main breaker. An electrician was describing the tie in as having to meet three criteria in order to pass code, but whether compliant or not, your point is well taken. While I do not have room in my current AC panel in the bathroom wall for a double 30 x 2 breaker, I could feed down and into a sub panel. Yep, it's 240 volt, so the double 30 is what I'd need. This thing draws about 21 amps from each leg (phase), so I assume this is the one I'd need.

 

Thanks for the input.

 

51Oq6YTX0rL._AC_UL160_SR160,160_.jpg

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I looked at the Cheap Heat and would love to install....BUT it will not work with the Suburban 2 stage furnace. I would have to jury rig a stand alone unit in the basement. Since I have two heat pumps and spend as little time as possible in temperatures below 40 degF, I will use my space heaters and a little propane.

 

Ken

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Outwest, first of all, good advice as usual from Kirk. Your RV power cord (assuming its 50 amp) is 50 amp rated and its protected by the 50 amp branch circuit breaker inside the RV Pedestal distribution panel. In addition, the 50 amp main breaker in the RV panel limits total load to 50 amps after the main.

 

Im confused a bit by your statement "While I do not have room in my current AC panel in the bathroom wall for a double 30 x 2 breaker, I could feed down and into a sub panel."

 

Normally a circuit breaker inside the main RV panel could feed a "sub panel" so if there's no room inside your main panel for a sub panel circuit breaker just how are you feeding the proposed sub panel???????????????? Do you mean the AC panel in the bathroom is already a second sub panel in your RV?? If so, is there room in your main panel (ahead of bathroom panel if so equipped) for the new heater branch circuit???

 

There are certain NEC "Tap Rules" that allow for taps off a main feeder so you can feed two separate loads, but they get a bit tricky. Is that what the electrician was talking about?? Are you going to try and feed two panels off the incoming 50 amp feeders??

 

I just don't understand if you have a main and a sub already and if there's room in your main to feed a sub panel??? BUT if theres room in your main to feed a sub, you don't need a sub, just use a 30 amp 2 pole breaker to feed the new heater.

 

NOTE Unless you're talking heat pump, resistance electric heating produces 3.41 BTU per Watt. A small 120 volt 1500 watt cube heater draws around 12.5 amps and produces 1500 x 3.41 = 5115 BTU of heat. A small RV may use like a 30,000 BTU LP Gas Furnace just to give you an idea.

 

Don't forget the RV main plus any sub panel have separate isolated insulated Neutral and Ground Busses.

 

Sorry for my confusion about what you currently have (main and sub already or only a main)

 

John T Too long retired EE

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To me the Cheap Heat system look like a simple resistance wiring electric heat element that attaches to the RV furnace. You still have to pay for the electricity you use (unless you are not on metered electric, then maybe this is its appeal, though many campgrounds prohibit AC heat, or add a surcharge if you use an electric heater). However wouldn't simple electric resistance heaters be cheaper (if you must pay for the electricity you use) and more efficient as they wouldn't suffer any heat loss through the ducts?

 

Electric resistance heat while clean and convenient is far from cheap to use, producing only 3.4 BTUs of heat per watt/hr. A 1,500 watt electric resistance heater (regardless of the type) only produces 5,120 BTUs of heat/hr. On the Cheap Heat's medium heat configuration, it consumes 3,750 watts of electricity to produce 12,800 BTUs of heat. For comparison this HSAC-12H/C heat pump http://www.geinnovations.net/Specifications.html only consumes 600 watts of electricity to produce roughly the same amount of heat, plus you don't lose any heat in ducting. It is 6 times more efficient, so only uses 16% the electricity to produce the same amount of heat. It is even DC powered, so it lends itself well to boondocking applications with a sufficiently large battery bank and solar system. On the downside it costs about $2,000 - 4 times as much as the Cheap Heat system. On the plus side you're getting a super efficient air conditioner too, which is its primary function.

 

A cost effective compromise (if you don't want off-grid electric heat and AC) might be an efficient RV roof mounted heat pump/ac unit. For instance, Coleman claims their rooftop heat pump has a COP of 2.5 (2 1/2 times more efficient than resistance heat) http://www.adventurerv.net/coleman-hp2-heat-pump-15000-btu-roof-air-conditioner-complete-p-1380.html for $840 almost twice the price of the Cheap Heat (but you get a 15k BTU high efficiency AC with a clean installation too).

 

For daytime use, this is the ultimate in cheap RV heating https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoIBlBlSnVo and part 2 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUMDLvaRAGw . It provides free heat from the sun, but only works when the sun is shining making if suitable for supplemental heating only, stretching but not eliminating your electricity/propane costs.

 

Chip

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Chip, the downfall of the heat pump is the COP drops as you approach 40 degF outside ambient, so it becomes less efficient down to 40 degF. Below 38 to 40 DegF, it pretty much stops working as the out door coil becomes a ball of ice.

 

I hear stories of folks claiming to operate their RV heat pumps down below 30 degF and they claim they are still heating. AS a mechanical engineer that has spent his career in industrial refrigeration and lots of heat transfer and thermodynamics, I do not see how an air source heat pump will operate much below 40 degF.

 

So the Cheap Heat will be a good alternate for someone operating below 40 degF and they do not want to use propane heat. But for me, I'll use my two little 1500 Watt space heaters when needed. The two of them will keep the trailer warm into the mid 20 degF range with the furnace only operating periodically.

 

Ken

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Outwest, first of all, good advice as usual from Kirk. Your RV power cord (assuming its 50 amp) is 50 amp rated and its protected by the 50 amp branch circuit breaker inside the RV Pedestal distribution panel. In addition, the 50 amp main breaker in the RV panel limits total load to 50 amps after the main.

 

Im confused a bit by your statement "While I do not have room in my current AC panel in the bathroom wall for a double 30 x 2 breaker, I could feed down and into a sub panel."

 

Normally a circuit breaker inside the main RV panel could feed a "sub panel" so if there's no room inside your main panel for a sub panel circuit breaker just how are you feeding the proposed sub panel???????????????? Do you mean the AC panel in the bathroom is already a second sub panel in your RV?? If so, is there room in your main panel (ahead of bathroom panel if so equipped) for the new heater branch circuit???

 

There are certain NEC "Tap Rules" that allow for taps off a main feeder so you can feed two separate loads, but they get a bit tricky. Is that what the electrician was talking about?? Are you going to try and feed two panels off the incoming 50 amp feeders??

 

I just don't understand if you have a main and a sub already and if there's room in your main to feed a sub panel??? BUT if theres room in your main to feed a sub, you don't need a sub, just use a 30 amp 2 pole breaker to feed the new heater.

 

NOTE Unless you're talking heat pump, resistance electric heating produces 3.41 BTU per Watt. A small 120 volt 1500 watt cube heater draws around 12.5 amps and produces 1500 x 3.41 = 5115 BTU of heat. A small RV may use like a 30,000 BTU LP Gas Furnace just to give you an idea.

 

Don't forget the RV main plus any sub panel have separate isolated insulated Neutral and Ground Busses.

 

Sorry for my confusion about what you currently have (main and sub already or only a main)

 

John T Too long retired EE

John, thanks for your thoughtful reply. The confusion is mine. I only have one main panel now. When I said I didn't have room, I meant that there isn't any more space for the double 30 amp breaker this device needs. I wasn't referring to an overall capacity issue. Your questions is: Normally a circuit breaker inside the main RV panel could feed a "sub panel" so if there's no room inside your main panel for a sub panel circuit breaker just how are you feeding the proposed sub panel???????????????? Because I didn't know a breaker would need to be in the main panel to feed a subpanel, my comment didn't make sense. I have one half of a double breaker (20 amp leg) from when I eliminated an electric cooktop that I converted to gas, otherwise, my panel is slam full with no open blanks. That leaves what this electrician was saying, I believe. Based on your help, I reviewed the 10-ft feeder tap rule [240.21(B)(1) and yes, that's what I recall this electrician explaining, which was that he could tie in and be compliant. Not knowing much, it may be a bad idea - compliant to code or not, but I don't know. If may be my only viable option.

 

Kirk makes a good point that tapping in negates the 50 amp breaker in the panel, but if to code, is this considered inappropriate? Kirk, what do you think?

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Chip, the downfall of the heat pump is the COP drops as you approach 40 degF outside ambient, so it becomes less efficient down to 40 degF. Below 38 to 40 DegF, it pretty much stops working as the out door coil becomes a ball of ice.

 

I hear stories of folks claiming to operate their RV heat pumps down below 30 degF and they claim they are still heating. AS a mechanical engineer that has spent his career in industrial refrigeration and lots of heat transfer and thermodynamics, I do not see how an air source heat pump will operate much below 40 degF.

 

So the Cheap Heat will be a good alternate for someone operating below 40 degF and they do not want to use propane heat. But for me, I'll use my two little 1500 Watt space heaters when needed. The two of them will keep the trailer warm into the mid 20 degF range with the furnace only operating periodically.

 

Ken

 

Thanks Ken, this is my issue. I'm setting this fifth wheel up for an outside temp of 15-20 F so I can winter in the mid west and north west. I have a nice Coleman heat pump that's great over about 35 F. As a newbit full timer last year, I destroyed my electric tank valves and the exterior PVC because I didn't run my gas furnace, instead opting for interior electric heating. My furnace ducts to and heats my tanks. As I began trying to figure out a way to electrically heat the tanks, I stumbled onto this cheapheat thing per another posters comments. I would be at a pedestal during winter, not boondocking, so the cheapheat seems to make sense, expecially because running around filling these little bottles (despite having 2 40s) is a pain. In a park with elec included, the cheapheat is great. But I didn't know about electric heat possibly being ruled out by RV park owners (or upcharged), as someone says above. That negates the cheapheat totally.

 

As an alternative, I could stick with my heater fireplace and space heaters and apply some of those tank heating pads I guess. I don't know if those heating pads attached to the bottom of the tanks can handle 15 degree weather. I think they are 12 volt too boot.

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That leaves what this electrician was saying, I believe. Based on your help, I reviewed the 10-ft feeder tap rule [240.21( B)(1) and yes, that's what I recall this electrician explaining, which was that he could tie in and be compliant. Not knowing much, it may be a bad idea - compliant to code or not, but I don't know. If may be my only viable option.

 

? Kirk, what do you think?

The proper way to install a sub panel in your situation is to remove one of the breakers you now have and put in a double breaker to supply that sub panel. You then install both the new double 30A for the Cheap Heat and also the single that was in the existing panel.Your supply breaker for the sub panel would need to be enough to supply both loads.

 

No licensed electrician who is worth anything will put in a sub panel without a breaker to supply it, and in fact I have never seen any main panel which had any other means provided to connect to a sub panel. I have twice had houses that I added a sub panel to and both were inspected by the building codes people and approved. I was shown how to do it by a licensed electrician friend. In my last house that had a sub panel, the main service breaker was 200A/240V and the supply to the sub panel was 100A/240V.

 

If that Cheap Heat actually draws 21A per leg, it will be pretty costly in any location where you must pay for electricity. Of course, if the heat element is 240V that means that all power does pass through both legs as it uses no neutral. That would mean that the heat element must be about 5KW load and I think that it still depends upon the furnace blower and thermostat.

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Outwest, Gee this is getting deep but fun for us sparkies lol

 

1) You state "Not knowing much, it may be a bad idea - compliant to code or not, but I don't know. If may be my only viable option.

 

To the best of my knowledge, unless the NEC has changed or my memory failed me (may well be, no warranty) the "Tap Rules" if adhered to, would make your electricians installation all well and fine per the NEC as that's the whole intent and purpose of the Tap Rule exception to begin with. As I recall your 50 amp feeders are protected by the 50 amp breaker in the RV pedestal. HOWEVER if you tap your 50 amp rated feeders with smaller wires of less then 50 amps ampacity, that's normally NOT acceptable since they could conduct more then their rated ampacity BUTTTTTTTTT if they are of a certain location, length and that which is downstream is correctly protected THE TAP RULES ALLOW SUCH A TAP. I have no idea if the fact its inside an RV changes things as it may well NO WARRANTY if its NEC proper or not, even if it may be in other applications !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I always had a hard time interpreting them 30 years ago let alone now and I was NOT concerned with RV applications then.

 

 

2) You state... "Kirk makes a good point that tapping in negates the 50 amp breaker in the panel, but if to code, is this considered inappropriate"

 

FWIW here are my thoughts. First the RV's 50 amp power cord is FIRST over current protected by the 50 amp breaker in the RV power pedestal. The 50 amp main breaker in the RV panel also provides protection as it doesn't allow more then 50 amps of current via the RV panel loads. So, the RV power cord FROM the panel TO the Tap is still adequately protected (50 amp breaker to protect 50 amp wire) BUT if you made a 30 amp rated wire tap, 50 amps could flow in that 30 amp tap wire and that's NOT protected HOWEVERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR that's the whole Tap Rule exception if I recall correctly. It allows a tap of a certain length and size subject to its physical location (again if I recall correctly NO warranty lol)

 

BUTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT that (tapping the RV power cord ahead of the RV main panel) in my opinion DOES NOT negate the 50 amp breaker in the panel, it still does not allow over 50 amps of panel load BUT I AGREE IT DOES NEGATE THE 50 AMP BREAKER IN THE RV PEDESTAL but which the Tap Rules allow.....

I just wanted to insure were all on the same page IE the Tap may negate the RV pedestals circuit breaker (subject to tap rule exception) but NOT the RV main panelboard breaker........

 

I fear Im overthinking this lol but enjoy sparky chat. Again, the Tap Rules arent easy and actually I was NOT a fan and not sure if I ever utilized them???

 

REGARDLESS electric resistance heat still only produces 3.41 BTU of heat per watt as I explained above, and is often (subject to energy cost) not the most cost effective means of heating. Im NOT saying those heaters are bad or shouldn't be used, Im ONLY saying electric resistance heat may not be the most cost effective method................

 

PS as Kirk notes "No licensed electrician who is worth anything will put in a sub panel without a breaker to supply it" I AGREE. It has to be fed from somewhere, and its feeders need an overcurrent protection device, so that's a breaker in a main panel or try to use those clumsy Tap Rules grrrrrrrrr

 

John T

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I hear stories of folks claiming to operate their RV heat pumps down below 30 degF and they claim they are still heating. AS a mechanical engineer that has spent his career in industrial refrigeration and lots of heat transfer and thermodynamics, I do not see how an air source heat pump will operate much below 40 degF.

 

Ken

 

Ken-

 

It all comes down to dewpoint. We have spent two seasons in the San Luis Valley of southern Colorado. It has some of the dryest air in the USA, with dewpoints regularly in the single digits or low teens. With those dewpoints the heat pump will continue to work because the outside coil is not frosting up. In late spring and early summer we regularly used our heat pump with outside temperatures in the lower 30's and occasionally even the upper 20's. I recall that the coldest outside temp I measured was 27 degrees with the heat pump continuing to provide useful heating.

 

I will note that same heat pump is useless in central Texas below 40 degrees because the dewpoint is much higher and the coils frost quickly.

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First of all, using 21 amps per leg to heat is not leaving you a great deal for other things. Yes, I KNOW that leaves you 29 amps per leg, but really, that is not all that much if you have lots of loads in your coach. If you do not then it may be OK. I can routinely see 40+ amps load on a leg of service in my coach. Of course, I'll admit to having a large coach and I do have some of that load being used for heat. I guess my point is do not assume that you have "plenty of power" because you may not.

 

You can double up some breakers in your main box if need be - assuming that there is an available double breaker for that box. But better yet just move a couple of circuits to the subpanel to free the space, and supply some extra power to it. You only need one slot, it seems. I'd use the double breakers first.

 

It is not really that hard to put in a subpanel....but it can be annoying work....If you are not familiar with electricity I don't recommend trying it.

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Thanks so much guys. You're very kind and now I got a much better idea of the pros and cons. I just don't want to pay a bunch of money for something that really isn't that efficient on a BTU per watt basis and is still just as noisy as what I started with. Also, moving so close to the coaches' AC capacity threshold just doesn't make sense, because I do have lots of electrical "stuff".

 

I'm thinking I'd be better with leasing 325 pound tanks during the winter and burn baby burn. If I want to reduce noise at night, maybe I could use those DC thermal blankets on the tanks and run more electric heat inside with my fireplace and ceramic heaters.

 

As a newbie to full timing, it's amazing to me how helpful folks are. Again, thanks for your help.

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